Te whakarauora reo nō tuawhakarere. Giving our children what we missed out on : Māori language revitalisation for Māori/English bilingualism.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Te reo Māori, the Indigenous language of Aotearoa/New Zealand, is endangered: consequently, it is striving to achieve intergenerational transmission within a dominant English speaking society. This thesis focuses on the relationship between language and identity and the historical and contemporary contexts that have shaped the lives of eight iwi Māori participants and their children, who are living in the realities of this situation. When interviewed, these participants all had children aged between 0 and 5 years and all understood the importance of te reo Māori intergenerational transmission. This thesis seeks to answer the following broad research question: “What emerges from the narratives as Māori parents seek to revitalise Māori language with their children?” Using a Kaupapa Māori theoretical approach and an Indigenous narrative inquiry method, parents’ narratives were gathered and emerging themes were formed from these. Using Benham’s (2007) Indigenous narrative framework for analysis, these emerging themes were first placed into three features: ecological, sociocultural, and institutional. These three features were then scanned for the interrelationships across all three features and further analysed to thereby create a fourth feature, interrelationships. The key findings from this research are that intergenerational te reo Māori is not only about passing on language: it is also about healing intergenerational historical trauma, racial assumptions and stereotypes, which all arise from the legacy of colonisation. These aspects need to be addressed as part of developing both reo Māori communities of support and cultural and spiritual wellbeing so whānau can develop resistant and resilient language identities for living in a contemporary world. Due to high language loss in Ngāi Tahu tribal region (located in the South Island), succession planning is required at all language levels. Rather than relying on institutional knowledge, it is te reo Māori relationships and mentoring systems that will sustain and encourage the use of te reo Māori. This research shows that whānau living the reality of being Māori/English bilinguals have followed a pathway handed down from their ancestors: a pathway which has created a new dynamic way to be bilingual in a contemporary world. The unique contribution of this thesis is to present this pathway in a new model based on these participants’ narratives. This model demonstrates the key roles of whakapapa and rangatiratanga in establishing normalisation of te reo Māori in the home, hapū, iwi, community and civic society. Parents’ experiences and knowledges are valuable as they have led the way in language revitalisation. It is hoped that these research findings and the resulting model will assist Ngāi Tahu with future planning for intergenerational te reo Māori.